Comprehensive Requirement Guidelines (AECD)

The purpose of the comprehensive requirement is to:

  1. Evaluate and support the development of a student's knowledge in the substantive field(s) of their research in relation to adult education and community development.
  2. Determine her/his preparedness to undertake thesis research and to write a thesis, by identifying weaknesses and strengths.


The comprehensive requirement is a major paper between 7,000 and 12,000 words in length (including tables, figures, and references). It consists of a comprehensive discussion of one or more debates related to the student’s thesis. It is not equivalent to a full thesis proposal, but may be conceptualized as the discussion of the literatures in the student’s field(s) of study.

The comprehensive paper is normally developed in consultation with the thesis supervisor. However, where the thesis supervisor is not an AECD faculty member, the student’s AECD thesis committee member(s) must be involved in the development of the comprehensive paper. It is the student's responsibility to initiate the process.

Timelines & Submission

The comprehensive requirement should be written at or near the conclusion of the student’s course work. It must be completed no later than the end of the third year of full time study or fourth year for flex time study. The precise timeline should be determined in consultation with the advisor or thesis supervisor.

The official ‘countdown’ begins once the paper is submitted to the Department on the 1st of the month along with the advisor/supervisor’s Comprehensive Requirement Review Form (also referred to as the “evaluation form”).

Upon submission to the Department, the AECD Comp Committee ensures that a second reader reviews the paper within a one-month period.

The student shall receive notification of the results as well as the first and second reader’s evaluations from the Program Assistants by the end of the second month following submission of the paper to the Department.

Timelines may be longer during the summer months and during the winter university wide closure.


The Comprehensive Paper is evaluated by at least 2 faculty readers. Normally, the first reader is the supervisor/advisor. When a thesis supervisor is from outside the AECD Program a designate is assigned (typically an AECD thesis committee member). The second reader is an AECD faculty member chosen by the Committee and is normally someone who is not on the student’s thesis committee.

The Comprehensive Paper is initially evaluated on a Pass or Revise basis. If the readers determine that substantial revisions are required, the student will be given an opportunity to re-write the paper based on the written comments provided by the readers. The student must re-submit the paper for review by the initial two readers within six weeks.

If the student does not pass the paper upon re-submission, it can be revised once more. The AECD Comp Committee Chair will then assign new readers for a final evaluation. No student may proceed in the program without passing the comprehensive requirement by the end of their third (full-time study) or fourth (flex-time study) year.

Academic Record

LHAE Program Assistants will file the appropriate paperwork with OISE's Registrar's Office and Student Experience (ROSE) and the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) to ensure that the student’s official record reflects the successful completion of the comprehensive requirement.